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42                    HISTORY OF PERSIA                  CHAP.
progress was arrested by Amr, who, according to Persian
legend,,was bribed by the promise of the governorship of
Rei tcPlead the troops against Husayn. In true Arab
fashion many interviews took place, in the course of which
Husayn offered to submit, on condition that he was either
permitted to return home or sent to Damascus. Obay-
dulla, seeing the prey in his grasp, refused consent to any
conditions and sent Shimrl—whose name is perhaps the
most execrated in Persia—to force Amr to seize the
Pretender's party, or to supersede him if he declined to
The Tragedy,—On the tenth of the month of Moharram
A.H. 61 (680), the closing scene was enacted on the plain
where the city of Kerbda subsequently grew up round the
tomb—known as Mashhad^ or u Place of Martyrdom "—
of Husayn ; it was built as a memorial of the tragedy.
Cut off from the river and with only a rough barricade to
protect their rear composed of tents pegged together and
some reeds and tamarisk, the little band prepared to fight
to the death, with a heroism that challenges our admira-
tion through all the centuries that have since passed
Tradition says that before the battle joined Al Hurr left
the ranks of the Kufans and ranged himself on the side of
Husayn, exclaiming, " Alas for you 1 you invited him and
he ctaie, and you not only deceived him, but arc now
come out to fight against him* Nay, you have hindered
him and his wives and his family from the water of the
Euphrates, where Jews and Christians and Sabeans drink,
and where pigs and dogs disport themselves 1"
The combat was hopelessly uneven from the begin-
ning ; deadly arrows flew from thousands of bows and
kinsman after kinsman fell Husayn at first was in-
tentionally spared, but, as he was plainly determined to
die rather than submit, he too was attacked in the end,
his tents were set on fire, and he retreated to the river,
burning with thirst Here Shimr and some of the cavalry
closed in upon him; he was mortally wounded by an
1 I have seen the man who acted the part of Shimr It the Pawion Play let on and
beaten. Breaking away, he rushed to the Governor-General for protection, screaming
w£h fear and exclaiming,«I am not Shimr, but Your Excellency^ cook!" Ca«e» are
known in which players acting the part of Shimr have been killed.